30 March 2013

Kenya: Our Date With Destiny


This week the attention of Kenyans has been riveted on the proceedings at the Supreme Court. This follows a petition by Prime Minister Raila Odinga challenging the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's declaration of Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the March 4 general election.

As Kenyans await the court's ruling, it is imperative to note that the Supreme Court is a creation of the new constitution whose conduct so far in handling matters brought before it has been commendable.

When the IEBC failed to announce election results within the 24 hours, as it had promised, Kenyans remained calm and afforded the electoral body more time to announce the results. Similar patience should be accorded to the Supreme Court.

At the same time, the Kenyan judiciary has had a history of doing the executive's bidding. But with the passing of a new constitution in 2010, we have witnessed extensive reforms in the judiciary.

Kenyans should therefore not judge the Supreme Court on the basis of what transpired in previous presidential petitions lodged in the High Court and Court of Appeal.

Chief Justice Dr Willy Mutunga has assured us that the Supreme Court is actuated by nothing other than the desire to do justice no matter how unpalatable that may be to some people.

This is the promise that Kenyans should take to heart especially in view of the fact that the proceedings are being beamed live to ensure that "justice is not only done but also seen to be done".

Either way, the Supreme Court must eventually reach a verdict. That verdict will be invalidation or validation of the presidential results. Whichever decision is reached by the court, Kenyans should be ready to accept it, even if they do not like it.

Blaming the court and demonising the side that wins is not the way to go. That will only serve to balkanise Kenyans along ethnic lines, something that is inherently undesirable. If the court invalidates the polls, we should peacefully hold a fresh election. Alternatively, if the results are upheld, we should accept Uhuru Kenyatta as our duly elected president.

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